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Sex lessons for primary pupils; Basics set to become compulsory.

Byline: By NICOLA JUNCAR Education Reporter

PRIMARY school children should be given basic sex education lessons.

This is what a Government review, supported by a Tyneside education chief, said today.

Jackie Fisher, principal and chief executive of Newcastle College, has been co-chairing the review into Sex and Relationship Education (SRE) alongside schools minister Jim Knight.

The review recommends a shake-up of lessons to combat concerns current teaching of the subject is too "patchy". At present, schools have to ask parents' consent to run sex and relationship lessons for primary children.

However, the review says this consultation process should be bypassed and teaching young children basic classes on the human body and relationships should be compulsory.

Ms Fisher said: "It is vitally important today's young people are provided with a high standard of sex education."

The measures are likely to be supported by Newcastle-based national charity, Parentline Plus, which calls for families to start conversations about sex from an early age. Maureen Pearson, the charity's North East manager, has said: "It is important young people are taught about sex and relationships so they can make informed decisions when they are older. But it's not just the school's job, parents need to be talking to their children about sex, STIs and contraception even before they become teenagers.

"Young people who have talked about sex and relationships with their parents are more likely to delay the age when they first have sex, more likely to use contraception and more likely to be responsible."

Mr Knight told MPs he had received "strong recommendations" for making sex education compulsory in all schools. But he stressed it had to be done without "sexualising young people too early".

Britain currently has one of the highest teenage pregnancy rates in Europe and figures suggest rising numbers of young people are being diagnosed with sexually transmitted diseases. Under current rules, schoolchildren must be taught the biological facts of reproduction. Every school must have a sex education policy, but there is no requirement for teaching about relationships.

Campaign group the Family Education Trust argues sex education at school would "seriously undermine the role of parents". The Trust's director, Norman Wells, added: "There is no evidence at all to suggest that starting sex education at the age of four is going to reduce sexually transmitted infection and abortion rates among teenagers."
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Publication:Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)
Date:Oct 23, 2008
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